Critics' Picks

OzzFest 2000

Ozzy and Pantera. Main stage, back to back, in Dallas, Pantera's stomping grounds. That's all that matters about OzzFest, regardless of what you might've heard about all the up-and-comers on this year's bill. There's no way to beat that, not even with a 10-foot line of fire ants and the straw you sniffed them with. But the most important Osbourne on OzzFest isn't its namesake -- or his three children and their dogs, all of which are also on the road this time around. It's Sharon Osbourne, Ozzy's wife and manager, and OzzFest's den mother."I have to be there, because everybody wants somebody to go to that they feel is the head one," Osbourne says, from her hotel room in Chicago. "The mother hen. So I'm there all day, every day. And it's been great this year."

Of course, she's not motherly in the sense she makes sure that everyone is a good rock star and drinks their fifth before going out on stage. Her job is much tougher then that: Osbourne keeps raging musicians under control. Last year, for instance, there were some problems between some of the traveling balladeers. She didn't name any names, and she didn't have to; we all know Marilyn Manson can be such a little bitch.

Yet while talking to such a sweet lady with such a motherly manner, it's hard to believe that this very pretty, quaint 46-year-old with the most proper of British accents and fine physical features is married to the Prince of Darkness. "Ozzy's doing fine and is really happy with the way the tour is going," she says, very nicely. "It's a great vibe backstage, and everyone is happy to be there."

But come on -- this is Ozzy. The guy that, while en route to Moscow for the Moscow Music Peace Festival, didn't want to wait for Jon Bon Jovi to get out of the bathroom and just pissed himself on the plane. The guy that, while on a drug bender back in the late '80s, was so frustrated when he ran out of coke that he did a line of ants -- yes, ants. He did a line of ants to catch a buzz, or stave off boredom, or something like that. And that's cool. And Sharon promises that the madman is still mad on stage. Clean and sober, but mad.

"Believe me, he has his moments. Oh, yes," she says. "He's still like a naughty fucking schoolboy." Um, pardon? "I have the vocabulary of a truck driver. There's a mean motherfucker behind this smile. If anyone on tour misbehaves, they get it. They do."

Now that's what you expect from Ozzy's wife. But from Ozzy, he's never played the same set twice. Ever. In 32 years, which is longer than most OzzFest goers have been alive. So Sharon can't predict what songs or antics are to come. It might be a lot of Sabbath stuff, which has been known to happen. It might be a lot of Crazy Train-era stuff. It may be all Bon Jovi covers. Who knows. Bottom line, it's all well worth it. And if you see a pretty lady in a flower-patterned sundress hanging out around the main stage or in the crowed, be nice to her. That's somebody's mother.

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Adam Pitluk
Contact: Adam Pitluk